What inspired RBG Teachers to teach Environmental education?

We have a passionate and inspiring group of teachers here at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne and here are a couple of accounts of what drew them to the growing and important area of environmental education.

‘My passion for plants and the natural environment has led me to teach outdoors. As a parent I have seen the magic that happens when children play with dirt, make mud pies, concoct potions from plants, dig holes, make cubbies, discover how to make paint from clay stones… the list goes on. I wish to share my passion of the natural world to help foster environmental stewardship not only in children but in adults also :)



‘Working with young children has always been a joy for me……….. I had retired from full time work in early childhood education in Kindergartens and TAFE and I was looking for ways of using and furthering my interests of creating songs and music for children and of extending and enhancing children’s outdoor play, so the Visitor and Education programs at the RBG, which I could do part time, were a perfect fit for me.  I have so much fun sharing programs with children ……………I said to Jane, secretary after my first program “ I have had such fun, I’d pay you to let me do them!” and it has continued to be good.  An added pleasure has been working with a generous, committed and talented team and I keep learning more.’


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Kids say the darndest things!

Hi folks,

Growing Food for the Imagination
Working with children at the RBG gives us wonderful first-hand evidence of the vital role that nature plays in feeding and enlivening children’s imaginations, their creative play and their use of playful language. The diversity of colour, form, texture, light and shade in the Gardens provides a rich and dynamic tapestry that our brains seem to need to ‘reboot’ and see the world afresh. Diversity of fragrance/aroma, temperature, air flow and sound triggers children’s emotions and prompts creative and imaginative responses.
The really cool thing is that children respond with the urge to create characters that they set within a ‘story landscape’. Check out these comments made by kids in term four 2011:
When coming ‘face-to-face’ with Cockscomb Coral Tree (Erythrina crista galli)  a Year One girl observed “It looks like a Grandpa tree because of all its wrinkles”, while a fellow student said, “it looks like a race track for bugs!”

 Upon ‘meeting’ the QueenslandBottle Tree (Brachychiton rupestris), a Year Two student observed, “this tree looks like it’s eaten way too much chocolate!”

Other comments reflect enthusiasm for ‘other’ interests…”Throwing the (worm) poo balls was the best!”

Or, put quite simply, “I love the Botanic Gardens – it’s the greatest place in the world!”

Posted in Education, Plant Talk, Things in the Garden | 3 Comments

Thanks from Year 9

Hi folks,

The Education team here at RBG Melbourne does a terrific job co-ordinating and leading thousands of visits from school groups each year. In 2010-11, a total of 25,000 students participated in education programs, keeping our team very busy!

We received this lovely letter from a group of year 9 students who participated in our Changing Landscapes program late last year. As Emily, one of our Placed Teachers, says, “it is heartwarming to know that they enjoyed a dose of green therapy with us!” 

If you think your school may be interested in a learning excursion to the Gardens, please feel free to call the Education Service on (03) 9252 2358 for bookings and details.

Thanks, Year 9!

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Nature Play Day in the Children’s Garden – 28 February

Bring the kids along to Nature Play Day on Tuesday 28 February for a great day out in The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden! This free event is being held in conjunction with Playgroup Victoria and offers babies, toddlers and preschoolers the chance to get their hands dirty with a range of hands-on activities in the sunshine. 

Last year’s event saw more than 400 people discover the Children’s Garden. The most popular activities from last year’s event – including the worm farm, boat races on the Rill waterway, splashing in the spiral water fountains, music performance, and story telling – are back again in 2012. There will also be some new activities including making mud pies and creating Play-doh gardens. A ‘quiet time’ area will be set aside on the lush grass just outside the Children’s Garden where younger children and babies can relax on pillows and play games.

Nature Play is a great way for kids to indulge their curiosity and connect with the world around them, and The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden is the perfect place to start. There are lots of features for kids to discover, including a lush Rainforest Ruin Garden, a wetland area with insects and birds, a secluded Bamboo Forest, and a Kitchen Garden with lots of unusual fruits, vegetables and herbs.

The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden is open to the public on Wednesday – Sunday from 10am – sunset except for school holidays, when it is open seven days a week from 10am – sunset. During school terms, the Children’s Garden is reserved for school groups on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Date:               Tuesday 28 February
Time:              10am – 1pm
Location:       The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden
                           Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
                           Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra
                           Melways Ref: 2F, K12
Cost:                Free
Enquiries:      (03) 9252 2429

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RHS Chelsea Flower Show prize winners tour Victoria

Hi folks,

As some of you may remember, last year we entered a little garden show called the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. As part of our (ahem… gold-medal winning) Show Garden entry, we held a competition for two lucky UK residents to win a trip to Australia to see the real thing at RBG Cranbourne.

The winners, Kevin and Gillian Shelton, arrived last week and have been sampling some of the best accommodation, dining and experiences that Victoria has to offer. The Sheltons entered the competition along with more than 24,500 entrants.

“This is our first visit to Australia and it’s something that we’ve always wanted to do,” explained Kevin Shelton.

Thanks to our prize partners at some of Victoria’s leading attractions on the South East Touring Triangle, the Sheltons are enjoying a brilliant 11-day prize package valued at more than $8,500.

The Sheltons have the opportunity to get up close to koalas, penguins and seals at Phillip Island; savour some great Australian wines and float above the Yarra Valley in a hot air balloon; be pampered at the Peninsula Hot Springs; and explore some of Victoria’s world-class gardens. As you can see from the photos below, they’re handling it all rather well!

Some of the highlights on the couple’s jam-packed itinerary include:
– Exclusive helicopter and hot balloon rides over Melbourne and the Yarra Valley
– Must-do Melbourne experiences such as Eureka Skydeck, Neighbours tour, and the National Sports Museum
– Gourmet lunches and wine sampling at some of the finest wineries on the Mornington Peninsula including Montalto, Max’s of Red Hill and De Bortoli
– Dinners on Melbourne’s iconic Colonial Tramcar Restaurant, at the beautiful Chateau Yering in Yarra Valley, and limousine transfers to dinner at the stunning Skyhigh Restaurant at Mt Dandenong
– An afternoon of pampering at Peninsula Hot Springs
– A close encounter with koalas at Healesville Sanctuary, tour of Phillip Island Nature Parks, seal-watching on a Wildlife Coast Cruise, and lunch at Rhyll Trout Bush Tucker Farm
– VIP experiences at Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, including the Aboriginal Heritage Walk and Devonshire tea
– Exclusive tour of the Australian Garden at RBG Cranbourne – the inspiration for RBG Melbourne’s gold-medal winning show garden at the 2011 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The Sheltons will also get a sneak peek at the second and final stage of the Australian Garden at RBG Cranbourne. The completed Australian Garden is set to become one of Australia’s major tourist destinations when it opens to the public in late 2012.

The nine hectares comprising Stage 2 of the Australian Garden will extend the success of Stage 1 and enhance community engagement and visitor experiences, with the addition of new plantings, public amenities, landscapes, artworks, interpretive information and educational resources.

The Royal Botanic Gardens would like to thank its generous prize partners:
Tourism Victoria                                              Mornington Peninsula Tourism
Destination Melbourne                                    Yarra Valley Tourism
Destination Phillip Island

Accommodation                                      Dining                                                          Experiences
and Car Hire                                                
Chateau Yering, Yarra Valley             Australian Wine Tour Company      Bunyip Tours Hertz                                                            Colonial Tramcar Restaurant            Eureka Skydeck
Hotel Charsfield, Melbourne                 De Bortoli Winery                                  Global Ballooning
Lindenderry, Red Hill                             Max’s of Red Hill                                     Healesville Sanctuary
Loft in the Mill, Olinda                            Montalto Vineyard & Olive Grove    Heli Experiences
Silverwater Resort, Phillip Island       Rhyll Trout Bush Tucker Farm         National Sports Museum
                                                                       Skyhigh Restaurant                             Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate
                                                                                                                                           Peninsula Hot Springs
                                                                                                                                           Puffing Billy
                                                                                                                                           Wildlife Coast Cruises

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30 years of volunteering at RBG Melbourne

Hi folks,

In October 2011, we celebrated 30 years of volunteering at RBG Melbourne. Our volunteers are an amazingly knowledgeable and dedicated group who give their time to help others enjoy the Gardens. Without their inexhaustible enthusiasm, a lot of the tours and programs just wouldn’t happen.

The following was written by Mary Ward, one of our Volunteer Guides:

October 2011 marks the 30th Anniversary of the Voluntary Guides of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. The first group of 14 Guides began their training in February 1981 and took their first walks in October that year, escorting the wives of Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) who were inMelbourne for the 1981 CHOGM Meeting. Today, we have 39 serving Voluntary Guides.

The Voluntary Guides grew out of the original Plant Craft Cottage Group, with the Guides Group operating as one of several groups that made up the Plant Craft Cottage. Tours were free but donations were gratefully accepted.

Today, Garden Discovery Walks are offered at 11am and 2pm Tuesdays to Sundays, Booked Walks for groups of ten or more are taken as requested. The Guides also go ‘Beyond the Garden Gate’ to give illustrated talks to garden club groups, Probus, U3A, nursing homes, retirement villages etc– to take the Gardens to people who may be unable to visit physically.

Some of the specialised walks developed and offered over the past decade include: Breakfast with the Birds, Walk on the Wildside, Birds Binoculars & Botanics, California Dreaming, Tea & Camellias, the ever-popular Chocolate & Spice, Commonwealth Connections Federation Walk (2001) to commemorate the centenary of Federation; Guilfoyle’s Volcano, Lakeside Stroll, Living on the Edge featuring the new Rare & Threatened collection; Long Island, the Lower Yarra River Habitat; Secrets of the Herbarium; Seeds for Survival featuring the Victorian Conservation Seedbank; Tropical Hothouse Yesterday, Today and  Tomorrow. All of these walks have been thoroughly researched by the Guides.

Every Guide has contributed in some way to the working of the group and over the years there have been significant contributions by many people – in maintaining the Guides’ library, editing and producing the informative Guidepost, doing rosters for walks and special programs, in working on the Guides’ committee, and in managing and organising research projects and walks.

This occasion was celebrated by a tree planting by Margaret Polmear and John Nicholas, two of the currently serving Guides. A Davidia involucrate (Dove Tree) was planted in the Ailanthus Bed in the Southern China Collection on 10 October 2011.

Voluntary Guide, Mary Ward 2011.

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Victorian Schools Garden Awards at RBG Melbourne

Hi folks,

Here at RBG Melbourne, we’re very pleased to be hosting the grand finale of the 34th annual Victorian Schools Garden Awards on Thursday 1 December. Proudly supported by the Department of Education, the awards ceremony will be hosted by superstar gardener Jane Edmanson. Jane will announce the state winners and present prizes to the winning schools on the day.

Over its 34-year history, the program has involved more than three million students. The Awards encourage school communities to utilise their gardens and grounds effectively. Judging focuses on the improvements school gardens make to the environment through the active involvement of students, teachers and the broader school community.

The Awards provide a great opportunity for students to explore fresh ideas in the face of climate change.  In recent years, schools and regions affected by past drought, bushfire and flood have been encouraged to participate in the program, helping to expand traditional notions of what gardening can embrace or achieve.

Regional judging has taken place for 2011 and there are many happy regional award winners across Victoria, including Stawell Primary School.  This school has been working hard over the last twelve months to develop their schools gardens and establish comprehensive recycling and composting systems. 

We look forward to seeing all the finalists here at the Gardens on Thursday!

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